'Knocking Hunger' foodraiser coming to your front door 

Shoulder season demand for food bank expected to rise

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Donating non-perishable items to the Whistler Food Bank is as easy as opening the door on May 8, as volunteers go door-to-door seeking support.

The volunteers will be knocking on doors from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in various neighbourhoods to inform people of the food bank's need and the time and location of the drop-off point. The reach of the fundraiser will depend on how many volunteer collectors step forward.

The actual donations can be made at neighbourhood drop-off sites open between May 9 and 16.

The shoulder season is a slow time in the resort, and as a result many employees see their hours and pay reduced — or are laid off altogether.

As a result, demand typically increases at the Whistler Food Bank, which is already challenged to meet demand that's been growing steadily the past few years. This year, the food bank exhausted its total annual budget for food purchases in the first four months.

"We've had to stretch ourselves out financially while still trying to meet our clients' needs and keep the shelves full," said food bank coordinator Sara Jennings. "And coming into the shoulder season we've been having a big push to have fundraisers to get the word out."

The Knocking Hunger campaign was inspired by events held in Revelstoke and around Ontario.

Volunteers will canvass half a dozen Whistler neighbourhoods, knocking on doors and asking residents if they can contribute. As well, volunteers will be invited to help collect food at drop-off locations.

If you can spare a few hours next week to help the food bank, contact foodbank@mywcss.org.

Also this week, about 60 students at Whistler Secondary School (WSS) took part in World Vision's 30-Hour Famine — the largest youth fundraising project in the world.

The goal is to raise awareness about issues around global hunger as well as collect pledges for the 30-Hour Famine, which started for the students on May 1.

Last year the students raised over $4,000 a figure they hope to beat this year. To donate, please contact a WSS student you know, or send an email to jhall@sd48.bc.ca to get a link to the WSS section of the 30-Hour Famine website.

All the money raised goes to World Vision, a leading Christian ministry serving people in nearly 100 countries. Every day, hunger kills as many as 11,000 kids under age five.

Food Bank Facts

• In 2011 the Whistler Food Bank served 2,900 people, assisted by 974 volunteer hours — about 18.75 volunteer hours each week.

• Over 10,000 kilograms (10 metric tonnes) of food was donated by the community.

• In February 2012 the food bank served 250 people, including 38 children.

• The average food bank user uses the service one to five times. The small number of people that use the service long term are low income families or individuals with addictions and mental disabilities.

• Over half (52 per cent) of users have lived in Whistler between two and 12 months. Only 25 per cent have lived in Whistler for three or more years.

• Young people made up the majority of users, with 64 per cent aged 20 to 29.

• 26 per cent of users were unemployed and looking for work; 32 per cent were underemployed.

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